The Going Away Party

Come Monday morning I will say my final goodbyes to site and step on a bus to Bangkok for Peace Corps check out. It’s been an interesting two years to say the least. I will miss my friends at site and the easy goingness of village life, but I am also excited to see what the future has in store and to finally begin my post Peace Corps journey.

Here’s some photos from my going away party. We kept it simple with my favorite dinner (Korean BBQ) and close friends. It was exactly the party I had hoped for.

Have you read my Peace Corps highlights? Better get on that.

Peace Corps Year 1 Highlights

Peace Corps Year 2 Highlights

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Palm Fruit and the Profit of Life

Allow me to explain two things about Thai culture before we get to the juicy part of this post. The palm juicy part of it. Bahaha.

The Lemonade Stand

Business in Thailand is commonly operated out of the home. Whether it’s a thriving construction company or a simple boiled corn stand, there is often some sort of business happening at the house. I call these at home enterprises the Lemonaide Stands to simplify explanations and because a lot of them are literally stands on the side of the road, like the one photoed above.

The Profit of Life

“Gam rai chii wit,” which means “profit of life” is a Thai idiom used to describe life experiences that contribute to the richness of life. In Thailand the “profit of life” means stopping alongside the road multiple times between point A and point B. The profit of life in Thailand lays in the process of life. The experiences between point A and B are as important as point A and B.

I venture to conjecture that the “profit of life” and the “Lemonade Stands” are intertwined. The “Lemonade Stands” are possible because people do stop, browse and purchase in order to gain the “profit of life.”

Back to the Palm Fruit Story

At some point between stopping by a wedding and meeting up with some people in the Old City, we stopped at this palm snack stand. Immidiately, I’m annoyed because stopping for any nonessential things between point A and B drives me bonkers. I am not good at gleaning the “profit of life” by Thai standards.

In an effort to entertain my self on this stop, I took some pictures.

All of the snacks and sugars sold at this “Lemonade Stand” come from these trees

Behind the stand there’s this whole enterprise.

Palm fruit shells

Opening the fruit. It looks similar to coconut, doesn’t it?

Here’s the insides.

Washing the fruit

Packaging the merchandise to sell in front of the house and in town.

Several products are made from palm fruit. These are sugar discs.

Mmm they taste sugary

Finally, tasting the palm fruit. It tastes similar to fresh coconut. Not too surprising since they seem to be similar plants.

Clearly, this stop at the palm fruit stand turned out to be more interesting than I predicted. I guess there is some “profit of life” to making stops along the way now and then.

 

5 Reasons My Host Family Thinks I’m Crazy ~ Friday 5

First of all, my name Kelsi is commonly mispronounced as Crazy, something about the “L” and the “R” switching sounds and trading places. Anytime someone shouts “Crazy!” I assume their calling my name and I turn and smile.

I spend long periods of the hot afternoon laying on the cool tile floor with a book. I don’t know why no one else has caught on to this bliss, but I’m the only one in the house that does it.

I’m prone to spill things or trip which has led to my host dad telling me, “You same Mr. Bean.”

Sometimes I space out during long conversations in Thai and then am alerted back to earth when my host dad says, “Crazy! Please speak with us.”

I eat things like oatmeal mixed with seven other ingredients in the morning instead of rice, which they find not only strange, but disgusting.

Din Tries Pizza and Doesn’t Barf!

There are so many foods that I think are delicious but my host family hates and vice versa. My love of oatmeal is not appreciated by anyone else and my host mom’s love of fermented fish makes me gag. Remember when I made Christmas cookies? Yeah, no one liked them. And they were ridiculed by the principle. Poor cookies. So when someone expresses interest in trying American food I laugh because most of the time they hate it.

Well this evening my host family and I went out to dinner at a fancy pants restaurant in the capital. I’ll back this train up and say that this was a completely random dinner. One minute I was lounging around the house in my village finest (oversized cartoon shorts and a giant T-shirt) and the next minute a car is pulling out of the driveway and I am rushing to pull myself together before we go out to eat.

This is the first time I have ever eaten foreign food with my host family aside from an afternoon of experimental sandwich making at the house. We ended up at a foreign restaurant where my host dad immediately started chatting with the first white people he saw and I hid at a table in the corner with my host mom and brother to pick out our orders.

We chose pizza and spaghetti. Note to the world: Din, my seven year old host brother, has never tried either of these things. I recently read a story about a kid who tried a cheeseburger for the first time and barfed all over the place. Cheese is not so popular for the unaccustomed palate I guess. I figured Din would hate both dishes.

My spaghetti comes and I convince Din to try a bite. The kid doesn’t like food. He hardly ever eats. But he loves the spaghetti, like “Mom, order me a plate of that” loves it! Then the pizza comes, he tastes and likes that too. Success…and no one barfed!

After dinner my host mom told Jip, another host brother, that I’m going to America soon and need lots of hugs.

Can I bring him home with me? I really need to find me a Thai baby to keep around in the States.

Photo Essay: Peace Corps Year 2

Here’s some highlights from my second year of Peace Corps service. Check out the first year here.

June 2010: Pii Da Khon festival in Leoi

July 2010: Camping trip in Chaiyapoom with friends from site

August 2010: Stopped by Malaysia for a few days

September 2010: Did lots of normal village things, like going to school and the market

October 2010: The parents move to SE Asia come to visit

November 2010: Close of Service Conference, lots of goodbyes and good times. PS. only 4 hours of the conference was spent at the Four Seasons, but a lovely 4 hours it was.

December 2010: The Mentor Reading Program at one of my schools takes off

and I spent Christmas in Cambodia with my parents

January 2011: English Camp for aspiring tour guides

February 2011: Lots of time at site with friends and kiddos

and an awesome camping trip to Nan with friends from site.

March 2011: Still in progress. It’s 8 days in and there are 10 days left of service. So far it’s a lot of goodbyes and spending time in the village with friends.

Photo Essay: Peace Corps Year 1

It’s my last week in the village and I’m feeling nostalgic so I thought I’d take everyone on a trip down memory lane. Here’s some photos from my first year in Peace Corps Thailand.

January 2009-March 2009: Oh the days of language training. I was supposed to be listening to directions in Thai to find a bag of candy.

March 2009: Trip with my PST (pre service training) host family to see the monkeys in Lopburi.

April 2009: First month at site and first Song Kran.

May 2009: Met up with volunteers for the Stripes v. Argyle Bowling Tournament

June 2009: School field trip to an agriculture fair

July 2009: School field trip to the Sukothai Historical Park

August 2009: Discovered a cave during the peak of my “I-like-to-take-ridiculously-long-bike-rides-on-the-weekends” phase

September 2009: First trip down south, one of many terrible sunburns

October 2009: Loy Kratong festival comes early

November 2009: Helped out at a volunteer’s No Smoking Camp

December 2009: Spent Christmas alone at site baking and watching holiday movies

January 2010: First visitor from home!

February 2010: Helped at a Business and Technology Training

April 2010: Celebrated the end of my first school year with a trip to Vietnam

and Chiang Mai

and Indonesia

and Singapore

A Bangkok Weekend

Last weekend I…

Got caught in a Bangkok rainstorm

Met the world’s snobbiest man (He told my friend that she was destined to be a waitress at Chili’s).

Went to the Jim Thompson House for the first time, which I loved but was sad they wouldn’t let me take photos inside.

Stopped by the Bangkok Art and Culture Center.

Swung by the Indian Embassy to get a visa and celebrated with a dinner of Indian food.

Said goodbye to some volunteers who fly home this week.